24 February 2011

Branden's Rune Companion

 As promised, here is the book companion that goes along with the deer antler runes I made for Branden.  All of the information was hand written on cardstock.  The cover is plastic from old advertisements at Food Lion covered in a thick black fabric. 
The binding was the hardest thing to figure out.  I had the pages all written by the time his birthday came around, but no clue on how to bind it together.  I had a wonderful journal that I had bought from either Borders or Barnes&Noble that showed the stitching on the spine. I had really loved the way it looked and decided that's how I wanted to bind Branden's book...just to figure out how.  It took a slow-paced video on YouTube by an older gentleman that only spoke Italian to help me figure it out.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I was able to use what he showed me and make up the rest as I went.  It's much easier than keeping all the page sets handy when he wants to do a casting!

It just took a quick drilling of holes into the plastic, poking holes through the folded paper with a thick needle, and a long strand of sinewette.   The actual binding didn't take that long, and was quite easy once I got a few passes down.  And it was a much cleaner process than worrying about binding glue!

The symbols on the front are done by hand as well, they're just the circle of runes and the symbol he uses as his signature.  I wouldn't mind doing another book like this.  I think next time, I'll just print off the pages rather than write all of them by hand.

Amber and Turquoise

At the 12th Annual Journey Home Powwow of 2010, we started incorporating demonstrations of native crafts.  Not only did I do demonstrations of how to do my feather painting, but how to do some simple sand painting.  Most of the participants were young children, which is wonderful...usually.  This was the first time I had done a demonstration in that kind of atmosphere, and I admit I was a bit unprepared.

The first day was hectic and stressful, so even while I enjoyed it, I had a tendency to want to throttle some small person into submission.  Branden was teaching how to carve soapstone across the way, and he was stressed out just as much as I was.  So after the first night, we met up with two friends who were also demonstrating and vending at the Powwow to relax.  We all kind of vented whatever we needed to and then just commenced working on our own crafts for the next day.

One of the ladies handed me a drop of amber, and said that she would carry it around with her when ever she was under such stress, and hopefully it would help me.  Being as the amber is also my name sake, I was super excited.  Amber is one of the few "stones" that are classified as coming from organic matter, same idea as jet.  It has a deep, warm feeling to it, almost like solidified sunshine on a warm autumn afternoon.  While I've heard people say it's for healing, I find it more to be a stone that is likely to balance things out the way the need to be rather than for healing per say, it's more like a pleasant side-effect.

So, I had the gorgeous piece of amber with a bead hole drilled through the center, and not a clue what to do with it.  I carried it around for a while before I got an image in my head of what I wanted to do with it.  I wanted to do a three strand necklace with turquoise and little amber chips!  Well...easier said than done.  All and all, this took about 6 months to make, if not a little bit longer.  The turquoise chips I found at one of the outlet stores in Nags Head, I purchased a few of them because they were 50% off at the time.  It was a good thing to, because they no longer carry them there.  I couldn't find amber chips for a decent price until I went online.  Fire Mountain Gems was having a sale on a few of their amber strands, so I grabbed a few of the grade and shade I wanted, along with a strand of coconut heishi.

It was well worth the wait though, it's one of my favorite pieces so far.  At least as far as jewelry is concerned.

Memories of Life Long Friends

It can be funny sometimes, the circumstances in which we meet those people that seem destined to be our life-long friends.  The story behind this necklace, always serves as that kind of reminder to me.  I met a woman, I think it was about 2 1/2 years ago now, who was quite distressed.  Her native tribe was lost to her, her dreams were overwhelming, her health was swiftly spiraling downward.  I spent quite a long while talking with the woman, and we exchanged addresses.  I thought that maybe, I could make something to help.  I am no trained medicine woman, I just have a strong intuition that doesn't let me rest.  I made a pouch of sorts, shipped it off, gave her some herbal, meditation, and diet advice, and prayed for the best.

I heard back from her several  months later via a box in the mail.  There were a few little thank you gifts, but the most important thing was a long letter and the photos enclosed.  Her health was improving, she was more active and in considerable less pain.  The best news was that she was coming the next spring to visit.  I made her another pouch, but the best part of the whole experience was being able to see her walk around more freely.  The photos were of her walking around in her yard, or working on it.  And there were honest smiles there!  To be able to see her face to face again with that kind of renewed energy was the best kind of gift anyone can receive.

Before we parted ways on the last evening of her stay, she gave me a bulky letter, and asked me not to open it until she left.  Inside were three shells and a handful of stone chip beads, along with a letter to explain.  She was able to walk on the beach again, and she choose three of the shells that spoke to her our of her collection she was able to pick to give to me.  As for the stones, she always wore an anklet made of those chips, and when she got out of the car the first day she got to the island, the band broke and all the stones fell neatly on the ground.  She felt that their use was done, and that it was time for them to go to me so I could do whatever it was I wanted or needed to do with them.  I have a huge tackle box full of beads from either my mother (who has been kind enough to send me down packages when she see's some sale going on in Pennsylvania) and from when Fire Mountain Gems has some really good sales, so I had a wide heishi to use as the top accents.

We still keep in contact, though, life tends to take its sharp turns to make it difficult at times.  I painted a little yellow warbler on a feather for her recently for Christmas/Yule/Solstice.  She's still doing good, and has a little grandbaby to occupy her time.  The beautiful and amazing thing here isn't that her health improved, or that I was given thank you gifts.  But rather that on what seems like a chance meeting, we have both gained a friendship that has meant so much for each one of us.  I wear the necklace often, it reminds me of her, and how close we can be even though we're several states apart.  It reminds me of how a single meeting can change one's life so drastically and in such a positive way.

23 February 2011

Branden's Runes

Branden had been oogling rune sets for some time now.  My mother had sent me deer antlers, and while I'm not much for runes (I'm more of a tarot person) I really wanted to make him a set specifically for him. I tried to do as much research as I could with them.  Being as I don't follow much of the Asatru ways, I still wanted them to be as accurate as I could make them.

The bag is out of rabbit skin.  There's a little bit of fur still around the edges.  The antler beads on the toggles are smoothed and one has the image that he uses as a logo.

The skin was already tanned, so I didn't have to do much work on it to clean the fur off...thankfully.  I still plan on learning how to properly tan, but his bag, is not one of those projects.

All of the runes were ground with a dremel on the edges so they're nice and smooth when he reaches his hand in they're not going to slice his fingertips.  The rune symbols are burned into the slices of deer antler.  And let me tell you, burned deer antler smells horrible!  But the finished product is well worth it.

They were finished by his birthday last October, and while he hasn't consecrated them, he has quite a nice bond with them already.

And to add to my pride of these, I got to speak with some of the members of The Troth when vending at CNCPPD 2010.  I asked him to take a look at the runes I made to see if they were acceptable to Troth standards.  I also have done a book that I will post soon to go with them.  I am very pleased to say that both the runes and the accompanying book have received the Asatru stamp of approval!

Adorable Turtle

Turtles are known as one of the great healer medicines. It is said that all healers have turtles and badgers and frogs in their totems.  We have a few turtles at the museum that I help care for, and it's amusing to see how their personalities differ.  They start to recognize those that come to feed them, and when I bring the sponge to scrub their shells.

On a completely different note, I've decided to go back to trying to see how painting animals would go without a background.  I'm not quite sure if I like the background or the feather pattern better.  But I'll probably do a little bit of both here and there.

Snow Covered Wolf

I think slowly, I'm getting over the animosity of the idea of Wolf Totems.  They can be necessary teachers.  I'm still not fond of how many glorify the idea of the "lone wolf" and how it's something they think is worth aspiring towards.  They forget the aspect of working together as a community.  Not losing yourself in a community, but belonging and playing your part.  All the wolves work together, and while you'll have alpha, beta, and epsilon (I think), they've all earned their place because of what they are capable, or not capable, of doing.

Simple Wrapped Feathers

Painting takes a lot of time and energy.  And when going to CNCPPD 2010, I wanted to have some other options for someone looking for feathers.  These wrapped feathers use turkey wing or tail feather as the main feathers.  They're decorated with macaw, pheasant, and guinea hen at the base, wrapped with sinewette and shells, beads, stone, and crystals.  I'm glad that I have a box of feathers lying around from all those times I visited zoo's and aviaries, and especially friends that have exotic birds.  And another thank you to my mother, who has been picking me up guinea hen and pheasant feathers when she sees them on sale.

It's Better Than Bambi!

Back up in Pennsylvania, we had deer EVERYWHERE.  Huge white tail deer, in large herds, running in the roads, eating the neighbor's petunias.  It was perpetual antics no matter what time of year.  They can't seem to decide if there's an over population of if they need saving.

But outside of the perceived problems that they see up there, deer are a good community medicine.  While ones are eating, others are keeping a sharp ear out for intruders and threats.  The children are kept close by and made sure they're safe.  And while they have to look of soft and gentle and demure, they'll tromp a person into the ground if you're that close of a threat.  Is it common, well, no...but it is in their personality.

The deer here, are tiny marsh deer.  They're not as skiddish, and a little more curious, but about the size of large dogs.  Instead of running into the cars, they'll usually stand at the side of the road and just kind of watch you go by.

I recall one time I was taking a walk going into the evening, and I spotted what looked like a fawn, but with antlers.  I wasn't sure if it was an actual animal, or a foam target.  I crept closer and closer.  When I got to about five yards away, the small buck snorted and then calmly walked away.  It's still a little strange getting used to, but they are still strangely adorable to me.

Bunny Bunny Bunny Bunny.....

Branden used to own a rabbit.  A little black and dwarf bunny he called Lexi.  While many people still see them as cute little fluffy happy things.  I have learned a different perspective of these animals through having one of them as a housemate for several years.

They do have some timid tendencies.  Their noses never stop twitching at fifty miles an hour.  In the wild, they run as soon as they see you coming.  That, of course, is after they've frozen in a panic hoping you don't see them. 

They they're not all fun and happiness.  I was not aware how angry the little things can be!  They are judgmental, finicky, temperamental, and just down right angry.  She would pound on her litter box if you didn't clean it the approved number of times a day.  She would dump her food if it didn't have what she wanted.  She'd thump her back feet to tell you she wasn't happy about having cats in the house, and then proceed to attack the cats...which were twice her size.  I would have never thought that they were such complex creatures before we had the pleasure of having her around.

Revisiting Of Totems

Totems are strange things at times, but they're a good source of inspiration when it comes to what I would like to produce next.

Scurvy of PCP, we'll often pick on for being a raccoon totem.  He's a bit of a troublemaker.  He can troubleshoot like no tomorrow, but in an outside-of-the-box kind of way.  He's resourceful, resilient, and has a small problem with survival instinct.  So the inspiration for this feather has come out of long conversations with him, and reminds me of his antics.

Along with that, I've always felt that one of my totems is a red-tailed hawk (hence the title of the blog).  I had rarely seen a decent photo to help use as a reference when it comes to birds.  Their usually too shadowed, or too far away.  There always seems to be a problem.  Once I found a good one, the painting went much smoother than I had anticipated though.

Hawks are known for saying very sharp things when needed to force people to pay attention.  They're kind of skiddish in some ways.  And if they're injured, they become a bit more fragile than you might think.  Their cry is such that everything stops when it's heard.  They are connected with Spirit, in a way that they bring messages from Spirit so people can better understand.

Swallowtail Butterfly

A sign spring is in the air, will always be the butterfly.  They've been connected with everything from the fae, to warriors of some tribes of native people, to death, to rebirth, to transformation, and that's only the beginning.  To come from such a strange little worm like caterpillar, to become such a beautiful winged spirit...

Sometimes it just amazes me that such a tiny creature, can overcome such drastic changes and obstacles...and we humans...have complaints because we have to do such a small change such as shifting jobs.  Kind of puts things into a perspective of sorts.

Wolves In The Walls

While I haven't completely gotten off my animosity of the furred beasts, I have decided to paint another of the wolves.

I still don't have too much to say about them....

And Bears! Oh My!

Branden has always had a kinship with Bear Medicine.  They're very intense creatures, no matter what type of bear you're talking about.  They're strong minded, bull headed, and fierce protectors of their home and cubs.  They're also humorous, intelligent, and resourceful.

Branden had this kind of sad presence when I'd show him all of the paintings I'd done so far, especially because there's so many that have totems of friends.  I had decided to spend a full day while he was at work to see if I could create a feather that he could really relate to...

I never realized how difficult it was to find a photo of a bear that didn't look like it was about to rip someone's face off...

Large Lessons From A Tiny Messanger

I was given a totem reading by a friend once, and I was informed that it was believed I have Hummingbird Medicine.  Hummingbirds are one of the most fantastic creatures around.  They cut through the air, seemingly effortlessly, with no regard to the restrictions that their cousins have.  They are shy in many situations, and will fly off if you breathe wrong when they first start coming around.  But the more comfortable they get, the bolder the tiny birds get.  They'll come up and peck at painted fingernails, and give you a quick fly by to remind you you're not welcome when they're feeding.

Their medicine is that of happiness.  Not naiveness, but happiness.  Taking every obstacle and looking at the positive and fixing it, knowing you can overcome anything that sits in your way.  Knowing when to avoid conflicts and when to show your snarky and sharp attitude to chop the problem down to size.

While it seems like an easy lesson to learn, it's a difficult lesson to truly accept.  So thank you little Hummingbird.

Moonlight Serenity

While I haven't taken many photos of my jewelry work, I have found one of the pieces that I'm quite fond of.  There's moonstone, copper colored glass, metal leaves, sodalite, and a lovely clasp at the top.  I was given the large center piece by a friend that just didn't have the dexterity to bead anymore, and I really struggled for a long while with what to do with it.  It was just lovely, and I wanted to make sure that whatever I put with it accented it without overpowering it or making it look out of place.

The finished necklace feels very elegant to me.  The sodalite is a very calming and soothing stone.  While the moonstone can be energizing to some people, it's still a very feminine, silvery type energy.  All and all I'm very pleased with the way that this turned out.

As We Struggled Through The Snow

It snowed this year down on the Outer Banks.  Not just a little bit, but around 8 inches of it.  Growing up in Pennsylvania, we always fed the birds during the winter, going through an amazing amount of seed every week keeping them warm and fed.  To think how hard we humans have keeping warm through the snow, and here are these tiny little sparrows and chickadees fluttering in small flocks, their bare little feet on the bars of the feeders.

So this feather was inspired by all those tiny little birds, who have braved the sudden snow that has hit the island, as well as those who are kind enough to continue to feed the little feathered things through the winter.

Wolves of the Sea

Orca's don't show up too often here on the OBX.  We get more dolphin and porpoise to be honest.  But the orca has often been considered a step above the other whales.  Whales are considered to be the record keepers of the totem animal, but when it comes to the orca, there's that feeling of something more primal.  This may just be because of the large teeth they still posses as compared to the baleen that its cousins uses.

This feather has quahog shell, amethyst, as well as puca and cowery shell.

Sly Snow Foxes!

Foxes are amazingly resilient animals.  Outwitting predators and finding food in the middle of winter.  We have a few down on the island, but they are kind of hard to come across.  When it comes to totems, they're crafty, slick, and very sexual creatures.  This feather came about when looking through a whole pile of nature photos from a dear friend, Crowfeather, and there was this striking photo of a fox trekking through the snow.  Up until this point, I had not really played that much with background color, nor odd angles of an animal.  So this one was really just an experiment to play around with, and it turned out amazingly!

It Has Been Done Against My Will

I won't say I'm opposed to wolves, but they're not one of my favorite totems.  Actually, I seem to have more animosity towards the mass that claims wolves as their totem because they're cute and fluffy.  So being I was asked very nicely by a dear friend, I have done a wolf.  The trail done on the attachment to the shaft of the feather is serpentine.

Feather Earrings!

While the painted earrings are a lot of fun, it's very trying on my patience to do a nice set.  So I figured I'd just try my hand at some simpler styles.

The single feathers were easy enough, and then I found a way to make some really nice ones with double strands of beads.  Some of them have semi-precious stones, and some are just beads and shell.  But they make me really happy.  And a shout out to my mother for finding me feathers and beads that are beautiful to work with.  Thanks mom!

Oh Grandmother Spider...Keep Your Children

I've never been fond of spiders exactly.  They've been a bit of a pain if I'm to be completely honest.  They lie in wait until I'm in just the right position, and POUNCE! they're in my face.  It sounds silly, I am fully aware of this...trust me.  We have huge jumping spiders and fast grass spiders that like to lie in wait for me around the house.  We have an agreement, or at least I'd like to pretend so, stay out my sight and I'll pretend you're not in my house.  I know they're good creatures.  And Grandmother Spider does her job of reminding us that we're all connected and interwoven, one can't be comfortable without the other.  They keep the "bad" bugs away and down in population.  I just wish, that Grandmother Spider would keep her children in less mischievous temperaments.

So, while they're not my favorites, I still understand how important they are, and did a few feathers as a reminder to myself that they are still important in the cycle of life, and beautiful in their own unique way.  Thank you Grandmother Spider.

The Mystery of Owls

There's always mixed feelings about owls.  They're shrouded in mystery, superstition and linger around death.  It's often said that if you hear a screech owl calling outside your home, someone close to you is fated to die.  Most spooky of all the owls seem to be the barn owl.  It's snowy white face, almost reminiscent of a ghostly human face.  Their call sounds like a screaming spectral woman in fury or fanatical sorrow.  When someone infringed on their hunting grounds as they camp huddled around the campfire, they'll swoop down after crying out, stopping just short of the unsuspecting camper's face and shooting soundlessly up again; leaving the camper hit with the wind of it's powerful wings going through them.

They're said to be the boarder between the spirit world and the material world; their large, dark eyes peering into the unseen just as easily as they witness the obvious.  I think for this reason, is why they are more intimidating to those who see mystery and magic as something to be feared.  For those that are afraid of the shadows, the owl poses a threat to that fear, and will tear it down if they would only allow it to.  Death is not something to be feared behind mystery and shadows, but a natural part of life that should be accepted just as sorrow and joy and anger and accomplishment.
Large amethyst and tiger's eye chips attached to the feather shaft